The government has decided to put on ice the proposed national urban rental housing policy, after an informal group of ministers (GoM) concluded that the move to set right the lopsided rent market in cities may not go down well with the electorate ahead of the general election.
“The rental policy is unlikely to be formalised any time soon. The main reason is that it is very sensitive,” a senior government official told ET on condition of anonymity. “It aims to set right tenant-landlord relationship, which is a very tricky aspect in cities. Even in our interactions with the state governments, we have sensed an unease and reluctance.”
This comes even as the policy has been in the works since the Modi government assumed charge in 2014. The first draft was put out in public domain in October 2015 and sought to promote various types of public-private partnerships for promotion of rental housing in the country and making good the growing housing shortage as a result of increasing urbanisation.
In the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17), the urban housing shortage was estimated to be 18.78 million.
With the local laws framed in favour of tenants, there have been many cases of tenants, including in prime commercial complexes, paying paltry rents frozen decades ago, and the landlords have not been able to evict them.
The Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, for instance, lays a condition for evicting the tenant in Section 14 (1) (e) saying that “the premises let out for residential purposes are required by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or any other member of his family dependent on him… and the landlord has no other reasonably suitable residential accommodation”.
The housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry, however, feels that if it moves to correct this, it could upset the people. “We need a stable political environment to set these issues right. The states also need to be on board,” said the official cited earlier.